Those That Hire: I’ve Flunked You.
Why the 6-second Resume speed-read is crap.
Let’s start with some backstory so that new readers who didn’t see me shoot my own foot off — ranting about bad hiring practices — can understand.
First and foremost, I majored in education. Secondly, I’m a marketer. Thirdly, I’ve been in hiring process hell more times than I care to count. On both ends; as Someone That Hires, and Someone Who Needs To Pay The Bills And Stuff. The hiring process sucks either way, but one hapless part of the process sucks a whole hell-of-a-lot more. And you’d be lying if you disagreed.
The feeling of dread that job applicants get when they are rejected, time and time again, is akin to being broken up with consecutively for 100 relationships in a row. You’ve invested the time, energy, and resources to put your best into your applications, only to be rejected with an automated email. Or sometimes not at all. It’s like being dumped over text. Or worse, ghosted.
Being turned down for a job without a hiring manager following up at all is like being ghosted in a relationship. It’s crap.
My article on bad hiring practices ballooned up in such a large way on Reddit, Medium, Linkedin, and Facebook that I was able to establish strong connections. The support was overwhelming. People came out in droves, I got tons of personal emails, and my Linkedin presence blew up.
I learned a lot about hiring, firing, and all that good gravy from the connections I made due to my divisive rant. And by good gravy, I mean bad, as in your aunt accidentally sprayed lemon scented Febreze on the gravy and expects you to still eat the radioactive stuff with scalloped potatoes (true story, sorry auntie).
Something I learned about this whole hiring process disaster was that many of Those That Hire people employ the “6 second rule”. Which is crap on a cracker. And lazy.
The “6 second rule” in hiring processes is crap on a cracker. And lazy as all hell.
I learned about the “6 second rule” in hiring practices after conversing with hiring managers and recruiters on Linkedin. Conversations between all the parties involved in the hiring process are necessary. Or we can’t even begin to solve the problem, at all. Employers, recruiters, hopeful applicants, and hiring managers alike need to actually start talking openly and with transparency. And we all need to do the work.
Maybe that’s the teacher in me talking, but transparency is a very good thing. It allows growth. By making things so opaque, we are preventing crappy hiring practices from being fully addressed. Opaque hiring practices are sortof like if you went to sign for an apartment and come to find out that the lease is written in Vulcan. Not a lot of people are fluent in Vulcan. I mean, it’d be cool if more people were, but I can’t expect everyone to love Star Trek as much as I do, can I? We can’t fix what we don’t understand.
When I read “6 second rule” it translates to “my attention span is worse than that of a goldfish.” At least, to me.
Let me explain my thoughts on probably the most pervasively offensive thing I’ve read recently, which is the “6 second rule” in hiring processes.
Those That Hire are employing a skim-reading process. They’ve been candid with me on this topic. I wish them no ill-will, first and foremost.
I’ve also received plenty of tips to avoid getting my resumes thrown into the trash along with their half-finished green pro-biotic bionic activated green wheat grass jelly-water. But it’s still offensive and needs to stop. Because if a student told me they only took 6 seconds to read over their homework assignment, I’d deduct points off of the assignment. In fact, I’d probably flunk the shit out of them for the day. Unless they could prove that by them not fully reading the material they could still understand the point of the homework I had given them.
Which they couldn’t, because no one is a super-computer capable of parsing information at that speed and fully understanding it afterwards. And congratulations if you are — I can’t even do that and I speed read with the best of them. It took me two days in between classes and homework to finish Crime And Punishment. I know you want to believe that your “6 second rule” skimming really works in hiring, but it doesn’t.
If high school kids can’t get away with that “6 second” skim garbage rule, Those That Hire can’t either.
Here are some things that you really shouldn’t be employing the “6 second” rule with, just to hit home that it’s a bullshit idea.
- A lease for an apartment. If you don’t read it fully, and only skim it for 6 seconds, you are going to end up accepting black mold and be liable for a shitload of weird damages. I’m from Boston: can confirm. Why should reading resumes be that much different?
- A contract for getting a car. If you don’t read it fully, and only skim it for 6 seconds, there may be hidden fees and you may get high blood pressure. From the hidden fees. This isn’t rocket science — read the damned resumes.
- Anything that literally requires you to be bound by law when you sign it. If you only take 6 seconds to read this crap, you are in for a world of pain with people who wish to wrong you. Or you will stupidly argue against something you signed for — just like Florida Man would do. Read. The. Resumes.
- You shouldn’t employ the 6 second rule when ordering food if you have a food allergy. You may miss that there are nuts included. And that’s terrible and super dangerous. Read for longer than 6 seconds when you attempt to hire people.
- Your project briefing. If you start on something that your client or employer has assigned to you, and you don’t fully read or understand the content, you’ll have wasted their time AND your’s. Resumes and cover letters, and all that good (bad) gravy, are no different.
- When you actually apply for a job. Employing the 6 second rule means there’s a very high likelihood you don’t actually know what the job is or what it entails. I now have first-hand experience in this, with recruiting, and putting a faux job listing on Indeed for shits and giggles. I clearly wrote it wasn’t a real job in the description. Many people applied and didn’t get it. Resumes should also be read for context and understanding.
Coincidentally, referring to hopeful applicants spamming job portals — this is a problem that I hadn’t fully expected and I need you to do a better job. You get an F in this aspect, too. But I know after those 100 applications you’re probably exhausted. And probably, possibly, most likely poor as all hell. I’m more sympathetic to your plight. Believe me, after my 156th+++ application I just started sending Buffy The Vampire quotes in my cover letters. I feel your pain.
I also am a little perplexed by this “6 second rule” issue when it comes to hiring creatives. Especially for Those That Hire in tech, design, or any other discipline that requires a digital portfolio of sorts. If you aren’t willing to dig through someone’s social media profiles or website — only to really see if they are qualified and skilled at their craft — you’re literally not doing 70% of the work when it comes to hiring.
Those That Hire must also do their research on candidates, just as much as applicants have to, if not more. Applicants took the time to apply. Which can be tedious as all hell. The least you can do is take the minimal 15 minutes to dig around into what they know.
There are ways that this “6 second rule” can work. If a candidate has literally no qualifying skills in their resume at all, then yes, you’ve essentially scanned for this. Take a quick glance, and you’ll know almost instantly that some of your candidates just aren’t up to snuff.
But, this can’t be applied with every single one of them. You need to apply the “6 second rule” for basic understanding, and then do a deep dive into their resume. The “6 second rule” only works solidly, by itself, if they are a complete, complete mismatch. Or, if you are lazy as all hell.
When I say Those That Hire are lazy for employing a “6 second rule” I need you to understand why I’m saying this. If you start to feel a little prickle up your spine, and your fists ball up, and your eyes start looking like a pissed-off anime’s characters — you are the issue. You know, deep down in your heart, that you have employed this tactlessly. And it offends you to hear the truth.
Those That Hire who read this and think to themselves, “I could probably dig a little deeper,” won’t be mad. Because I’m not calling that subset of hiring managers, recruiters, or employers lazy. I’m calling the ones who do it and complain about having too many resumes to go through, lazy. I’m calling those that have passed on perfectly good candidates because they couldn’t be arsed, lazy.
I wouldn’t be surprised if finding diverse candidates is harder, nigh impossible, because of the “6 second rule”.
“It’s difficult to find women and minorities to apply through traditional channels.” Is a garbage concern. It’s complete and absolute laziness.
If you can’t be arsed to take the time to at least attempt to read resumes more thoroughly, that’s where the laziness comes in. Because at the end of the day, your job, at least a huge part of it, is to hire. Do your job.
My job, when I taught, was to spend thorough, exhaustive, one-on-one time with students and build them up to be their best selves. And teach them Photoshop and HTML/CSS, of course.
But my ultimate goal, as a teacher, was to nurture students and their talents, and uncover new talents along the way. That’s also part of your job. If you can’t do the job of going through 100 resumes, pass it off to someone else. Hire out the work. I guarantee you that I’ve had to grade far more (misspelled) papers and (half-done) projects in just a week’s time than you’ve handled in a week of hiring.
Those That Hire: I’ve Flunked You. The 6 second rule is bullshit.
I’ll actually work with you, one-on-one, to see if you are the right fit.
(Like a real human and not a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica.)
Or you can add me on Discord to talk about nerdy things: windows95toasteroven#3745
— Kira Leigh